Wissot: Cabin fever has replaced spring fever
Before they moved to Los Angeles, the Brooklyn Dodgers were baseball’s version of the poetic line: “hope springs eternal in the human breast.” “Dem Bums,” as they were affectionately referred to by their loyal fans, played the rival New York Yankees five times in the World Series between 1941 and 1953. They lost each time. They finally beat the Yankees in 1955 and then played them the following year, promptly resuming their losing ways.
With each disappointing end to the season, their fans would utter the plaintive plea, “wait till next year.”
This spring is our Brooklyn Dodgers’ moment. We will have to wait until next year to experience spring fever. We have lost too many lives to generate the pent-up excitement which normally accompanies the greening grass, blooming flowers, and warming temperatures. Cabin fever has replaced it.
Social distancing and sheltering in place are playing havoc with the rituals of the season. Some of the casualties are gathering around the table with family and friends for Easter brunches and Passover seders; proms and graduations; Cinco de Mayo celebrations; Mother’s Day parties; June weddings with more than the bride and groom in attendance.
Flowers are not all that come alive in spring. Hormones ignite and the chemistry fueling human reproduction gets a rocket boost. But romance is severely impaired when two people wearing masks and standing 6 feet apart lock eyes for the first time across a crowded room. Passion is best expressed when touching is permitted. Under the current distancing guidelines, one night stands are really challenging.
The Colombian writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez believed that disease needn’t stand in the way of romance when he wrote “Love in a Time of Cholera.” Following his lead, I’m sure Netflix will soon be streaming “Sex, Lies and Coronavirus Videotapes.”
Married couples and partners cohabitating don’t have to follow social distancing practices unless one partner shows symptoms. Being in confined quarters for weeks and months will certainly test the strength and resiliency of relationships. Growing closer together or moving further apart are at the polar end of possibilities.
It will be interesting to track once this pandemic is tamed whether there has been an increase in the number of births and divorces. Corona babies and corona splits could prove to be a lasting reminder of what happens when an entire country is on lockdown.
I’m surprised at how little I miss televised sports. When the NBA suspended play on March 11, it took a few days to adjust. I’d reflexively reach for the remote to watch a game before realizing there weren’t any games to televise. After a week, I stopped reaching. Out of sight. Out of mind.
But there are four sporting events which take place at the same time each year in April and May that I will regret not seeing. They always served as reliable harbingers of spring — a first respite from wintry melancholy. The Masters golf tournament is held the first full week in April and the Boston Marathon on Patriots Day, the third Monday of the month. The running of the Kentucky Derby is the first Saturday in May; the Indianapolis 500 on Memorial Day weekend. They are four of the best-known traditions in American sport, sequentially tracing the evolution of human movement from walking to running to riding to driving.
Like you, I feel this shelter in place way of life gets old fast. But for as long as the siege lasts, I am prepared to make the best of my quarantined existence.
This is the only time in my life where what I do for my own well-being serves the public welfare. It’s a big responsibility, a heavy moral burden. But one I accept gladly and proudly.
After all, there are worse things than the monotony of cabin fever. Hospitalization immediately comes to mind.
Jay Wissot is a resident of Denver and Vail. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.